Crohn's disease is a condition that causes parts of the intestine (bowel) to get
red and swollen. It's a chronic condition, which means it lasts a long time or constantly
comes and goes.
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth
to anus (where poop comes out). It's most commonly found at the end of the small intestine
and the beginning of the large intestine. The inflammation of Crohn's disease damages
the entire bowel wall.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Crohn's Disease?
The most common symptoms of Crohn's disease are belly pain and
diarrhea. Other symptoms
blood in the toilet, on toilet paper, or in the stool (poop)
nausea or vomiting
skin tags, sores, or drainage around the anus
Because Crohn's disease damages the whole bowel wall, there can be scarring, narrowing
of the bowel, and fistulas. A fistula is an abnormal connection between the bowel
and skin, bladder, vagina, or other loops of bowel. A fistula may leak stool (poop),
pus, or blood.
Crohn's disease can cause other problems, such as rashes, eye problems, joint pain
and arthritis, and kidney stones and gallstones. Children with Crohn's disease may
not grow as well as other kids their age and puberty may happen later than normal.
What Causes Crohn's Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn's disease is not clear. It is probably a combination of
genetics, the immune system, and something
in the environment that triggers inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Diet
and stress may make symptoms worse, but probably don't cause Crohn's disease.
Who Gets Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease tends to run in families. But not everyone with Crohn's disease
has a family history of IBD. Crohn's disease can happen at any age, but is usually
diagnosed in teens and young adults. People who smoke are more likely to get Crohn's
How Is Crohn's Disease Diagnosed?
Crohn's disease is diagnosed with a combination of blood tests, stool (poop) tests,
and X-rays. Medical imaging tests, such as CT
scans and MRI, might be done too.
The doctor will examine a stool sample for the presence of blood, and might look
at the colon with an instrument called an endoscope, a long, thin
tube attached to a TV monitor. In this procedure, called a colonoscopy,
the tube is inserted through the anus to allow the doctor to see inflammation, bleeding,
or ulcers on the wall of the colon. During the procedure, the doctor might do a biopsy, taking small samples that can be
sent for further testing.
How Is Crohn's Disease Treated?
Crohn's disease is treated with medicines, changes in diet, and sometimes surgery.
The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other problems, and prevent
Your child's doctor may recommend:
anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the inflammation
immunosuppressive agents to prevent the immune system from causing further inflammation
biologic agents to block proteins that cause inflammation
Because some medicines make it harder to fight infections, it's important that
your child be tested for tuberculosis
and have all the recommended vaccines
before starting treatment.
Surgery may be necessary if:
the bowel gets a hole
the bowel becomes blocked
a fistula forms
bleeding can't be stopped
symptoms don't respond to treatment
What Else Should I Know About Crohn's Disease?
Diarrhea, A lack of appetite, and poor digestion of nutrients can make it hard
for people with Crohn's disease to get the calories and nutrients the body needs.
Children with Crohn's disease should eat a variety of foods, get plenty of fluids,
and learn to avoid foods that make symptoms worse. Some may need supplements, like
calcium or vitamin
D. Kids who are not growing well may need other nutrition support.
Kids and teens with Crohn's disease may feel different and not be able to do the
things their friends can do, especially during flare-ups. Some struggle with a poor
or anxiety. They may not
take their medicine or follow their diet. It's important to talk to your health care
professional if you're concerned about your child's mood, behavior, or school performance.